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April 1972

Australia Antigen and the Human Fetus

Author Affiliations

From the Virus Reference Laboratory, Central Public Health Laboratory, London. F.D. Hargreaves is now with the Regional Virus Laboratory, Edinburgh, England.

Am J Dis Child. 1972;123(4):376-378. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1972.02110100108038

The presence of Australia antigen in the serum correlates closely with viremia and is specific for the long incubation period type of hepatitis.1,2 It provides a marker for the classification of cases of acute viral hepatitis according to their etiology, and also for the identification of healthy carriers. The course of pregnancy in antigen-positive patients in both categories has been followed in an attempt to assess the consequences for both mother and child.

Patients Tested.—Five patients with antigen-positive hepatitis in pregnancy were identified in the course of diagnostic testing in the Virus Reference Laboratory, London. Three healthy carriers of Australia antigen were detected in a survey of 2,048 antenatal patients.

Laboratory Methods.—The techniques used for demonstrating Australia antigen have previously been described.3 The identity of positive reactions was checked by comparison with a reference antigen in gel diffusion tests. Negative results were confirmed by complement fixation

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